News and Press Releases

Felon with Lengthy Criminal History had Stolen Firearm While Distributing Crack Cocaine

December 12, 2008

LO SAETERN, 24, of Seattle, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 8 years in prison and 5 years of supervised release for Possession of Crack Cocaine with Intent to Distribute and being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm. SAETERN was arrested in June 2008, after he was stopped for speeding on Interstate Five in Seattle. The Washington State Trooper noticed the odor of marijuana in the car and later found a stolen handgun and crack cocaine in the car. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez told him “You’ve pretty much royally screwed up your life haven’t you?” As part of SAETERN’s supervised release, Judge Martinez ordered him to have no contact with gang members.

According to filings in the case, SAETERN has seven previous convictions: juvenile convictions for Robbery in 1997 and 1998 and for possession of stolen property in 1999; and adult convictions for possession of cocaine with intent to deliver in 2003; for delivery of cocaine in 2004; and possession of marijuana and possession of cocaine in 2005. The longest prison term he has done to date is 20 months. On the night of June 17, 2008, SAETERN was stopped for speeding on I-5. The trooper smelled marijuana, and noticed the handle of a gun sticking out from the back seat. The gun had been reported stolen by an Auburn, Washington resident. A search of the car revealed crack cocaine in baggies in the trunk as well as under the driver’s side floor mat SAETERN admitted to police that he was a member of a street gang known for drug trafficking, weapon possession, illegal gambling, and violent assaults. SAETERN pleaded guilty on September 9, 2008.

In asking for a significant sentence, Special Assistant United States Attorney Andy Colasurdo wrote “Saetern, a seven-time convicted felon, possessed the stolen firearm despite having been told repeatedly by the courts that, as a felon, he was prohibited from doing so. He was first informed of the prohibition at the age of 13 when he was convicted of his first felony offense in 1997, ...and most recently after being convicted of two felony drug offenses in 2004.”

SAETERN was prosecuted as part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods program. Unveiled by President George W. Bush in May 2001, Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), is a comprehensive and strategic approach to gun law enforcement. PSN is a nationwide commitment to reduce gun crime in America by networking both new and existing local programs that target gun crime and then providing them with the resources and tools they need to succeed. Implementation at the local level -- in this case, in King County-- has fostered close partnerships between federal, state and local prosecutors and law enforcement.

The case was investigated by the Washington State Patrol, Seattle Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives. The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Andy Colasurdo. Mr. Colasurdo is a King County Deputy Prosecutor specially designated to prosecute gun crimes in federal court.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Pubilc Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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